The Binding/Il legame conjures up old folk magic and binds it with family.
The Binding/Il legame is an Italian supernatural horror Netflix Original film. With a spooky atmosphere based on old folk magic, it sets an unnerving tone. With few dialogue, a solid structure and good acting it’s all about creating a tense and creepy atmosphere while some twists make it even more unnerving. Based on old rituals and family secrets, the new relationships are immersed in distrust and suspicion. With a slow pace it works towards a satisfying, and even more unsettling ending.
It’s highly recommended to watch this film with its original Italian audio and with subtitles in your own language if possible.
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Emma is for the first time visiting the mother of her fiancé Francesco in southern Italy. His mother Teresa still lives in their big old family mansion in the country and quite isolated, but has company from her friend Sabrina. Emma brings along her daughter Sofia and Teresa is immediately fond of her. But her interest soon disquiets Emma. Strange customs and rituals are imbedded in Teresa’s life and an old family secret surfaces to harm Sofia.
Why you should watch it
The Binding heavily relies on an uncanny atmosphere. The slow pace takes its time to unfold the plot, while it follows a conventional structure. The big mansion serves as a creepy old house and the countryside is evenly beautiful and outlandish to Emma. From the moment that Emma, Sofia and Francesco arrive, the audience as well as Emma feel that something is off. The strange behavior of Teresa and Sabrina. The feeling she’s been watched. The other friends and relatives that are invited to lunch who say a strange prayer. That the film starts with a disturbing ritual seemingly hurting a young woman, doesn’t help but make you feel that Francesco’s family isn’t right. The more when they are very focused on Sofia.
When Sofia gets bitten by a tarantula, things start to really spiral out of control. But things aren’t what they seem and when the twist presents itself, everything makes more sense, but gets also more disturbing and sinister.
Family and family relations are at the core of the film. Visiting for the first time your future mother-in-law isn’t easy, and the tone is very distrusting from the beginning. Emma is an architect who moves from city to city forms a big contrast to the old way of living in the country. When Teresa immediately starts to meddle with Sofia’s health, it makes Emma even more suspicious. Although this is shown, and forms the basis of the theme it doesn’t dive deep into these problems and mutual distrust on a psychological level.
Everyone is all too often alone in the house or outside. There’s hardly any contact between them. No conversations to make it awkward and unnerving, or strange behavior towards each other. Just the atmosphere that conjures up a feeling of an uncomfortable stay that leans rather quickly to the supernatural. For a film that has its foundation on family, it’s strange to see they don’t interact, don’t get to know each other and just roam around, doing nothing. Every scene is aimed to create that atmosphere, mainly with scares and beautiful but eerie shots of the countryside.
Asides from the binding ritual itself and the twist, the supernatural elements don’t bring anything new to the genre. The astral projection is a good scene and so is the ending. But it all comes down to a tragic ghost story (without ghosts) about a woman who has been wronged. Although the film is featured by women and only one man, it’s not an empowering film for women. In fact it’s all centered around a man, who in the end still isn’t held accountable for his deeds.
My favorite part
The scene where there’s something really wrong with Sofia and she is standing against the wall staring at the ceiling is a very unnerving scene. The scenes that are misleading about certain characters are also well done and they pay off at the end.
Scare factor: ★★☆☆☆
Entertainment factor: ★★★☆☆
Cast and crew
The Binding/Il legame is directed and written by Domenico Emanuele de Feudis and cowritten by Daniele Cosci and Davide Orsini. It stars Mía Maestro (Emma), Giulia Patrignani (Sofia), Riccardo Scamarcio (Francesco), Mariella Lo Sardo (Teresa) and Raffaella D’Avella (Sabrina).
Duration: 93 minutes. Music: Massimiliano Mechelli. Cinematography: Luca Santagostino. Produced by: Carlotta Calori, Francesca Cima, Gennaro Formicano, Nicola Giuliano, Viola Prestieri. Production company: Indigo Film, Lebowski. Distributed by: Netflix.